While UChicago students were off for summer break, class was still in session on campus. The pupils: practitioners and policymakers eager to brush up on their knowledge of the changing energy landscape.
“This is a topic that really has captivated not just young people but people of all ages,” says Ranjan Daniels, the associate dean for student recruitment and global outreach at the Harris School of Public Policy, which sponsored the executive education seminar on June 22nd-24th. “We wanted to provide expertise and frameworks for policy leaders who have to make decisions. The hope was that they would be able to apply our concepts in the decisions that they have to make.”
The three-day course provided a comprehensive framework for understanding and navigating the unprecedented changes occurring in today’s energy markets. It featured practical inter-disciplinary sessions taught by UChicago experts in behavioral economics, policy evaluation, data science, natural and physical sciences, and business perspectives.
“We thought it was a great opportunity to showcase the multidisciplinary work from EPIC, from the Harris school and across UChicago, to really provide this holistic approach to arm policy leaders with better tools and frameworks to make these important decisions,” Daniels says.
The course included discussions on: applying microeconomic theory to commodity price forecasting led by Chicago Harris Ameritech Professor of Public Policy Don Coursey; assessing the effectiveness of public policy led by Chicago Harris Deputy Dean and Professor Dan Black; demystifying the science of climate change led by Department of Geophysical Sciences Professor David Archer; public policies to address climate change led by EPIC Director and Milton Friedman Professor in Economics, the College and Chicago Harris Michael Greenstone; and lessons from prior deregulation experiences led by Chicago Harris Assistant Professor Steve Cicala.
It also included an energy supply chain overview for non-experts led by several practitioners, including EPIC’s Sam Ori, Sempra LNG & Midstream’s Juancho Eekhout, BP’s Gerardo Valencia and Invenergy’s Jim Shield.
“Our approach to the presenters and the content reflect the richness of the University of Chicago,” Daniels says. “We have economists, we have behavioral economics, we have scientists, we have business leaders that look at these questions from various lenses.”
Those who took the class agree.
“It’s been an amazing experience because you can see a different perspective of different approaches of economics, technology and changes in energy through the greatest minds right now studying this particular subject,” says Moises Vivalemia, a CEO from Mexico. “You have access to specific studies and information…to make important decisions and changes that right now are affecting the whole world.”
Daniels says this was one of the main reasons why Chicago Harris decided to offer the course, to ensure the research and ideas at UChicago are being used by leaders “to make a difference, to have an impact, to make the climate better.”
“I didn’t want folks to get theory,” Daniels says. “I wanted them to get concepts that they learned on Thursday and could apply on Monday.”
While this course largely targeted policymakers from the U.S. and Mexico, Chicago Harris hopes to offer the same program to policymakers elsewhere, including in Asia and South America, Daniels says.
“The ability for Harris and EPIC and Argonne and UChicago to come together and work with officials on energy policy I think is one of our great strengths as an institution and we hope to do more of that in the future.”